By the end of 2015, I experienced one of the most profound rite of passages that will probably ever occur during my entire lifespan. After years of spitting on the floor at the sheer mention of his name, I finally threw in the towel, swallowed my pride and confessed to being a newfound Belieber. I know, shocking. But before the comments start amassing into one big tidal wave of cynicism and disbelief, give Purpose a listen, in case you haven’t already. Still not sold? Well, your loss.
This week, it was announced that the Biebs would be teaming up with the folks over at creative social networking platform/retailer VFILES in NYC for a two-day pop-up shop where they’d be selling some exclusive “Purpose” tour merch. The brainchild of both the pop star and Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo, the collection included a range of tees, caps, hoodies, long-sleeves and jackets all emblazoned with some very heavy metal-esque “BIEBER” branding, with some pieces even calling out JB’s Brooklyn performance to keep the collaboration’s Big Apple locality in tact.
Aside from the urge to peep the merch up close (and yes, I did cop a T-shirt), I was even more curious as to what kind of crowd the affair would attract. VFILES’ penchant for all things weird, wacky and wonderful has accrued its own cult of colorful followers throughout the years – just peep their most recent show at NYFW to see for yourself. But given Bieber’s streetwear cred and sizable squad of rappers and Insta-babes, legions of hypebeasts and resellers were bound to also make an appearance. And then, well, there’s the Beliebers, in all their barely-legal, hormonal outbursting glory.
Unsurprisingly, the result was a large (and by large I mean queues around the block) mix of all three subcultures. Teary-eyed teens who trekked miles out-of-state and skipped a week’s worth of school just to cop a hoodie stood next to flamboyant club kids dressed in head-to-toe Hood By Air, while reseller chieftains and their minions of worker hype-bees camped out hours before opening to scoop up whatever pieces they could – only to upload on Grailed shortly after to sell at three times retail value.
Because of other commitments, we sadly couldn’t wait around all day to catch a glimpse of Justin when he arrived, but also because security was making our attempts at re-entering the shop increasingly difficult (our photographer really regretted not copping a shirt). But at least we got what we came for: a sartorial spectacle, a chance to meet OG Beliebers and some merch (well, at least I did).
- Photographer: Thomas Welch / Highsnobiety